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July 18, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 1:30pm

Top 10 devices for summer 2014

From flying drones in the park to reading that blockbuster on the beach, these gadgets will have your sizzling summer covered.

By Ben Sullivan

Google Glass

Google Glass, Google’s very own wearable glasses, was released this month to the British public. For around £1000 you can sign up to be a ‘Glass Explorer’, and be one of the first Google Glass users in the UK.

The gadget features a high resolution display that offers images equivalent to a 25-inch high definition screen from a distance of 8ft away, apparently.

We got one in to try out, and whilst not quite attaining the feel of a 25-inch HD screen 8ft away, it definitely was crisp and clear and not a strain on the eyes.

They are also equipped with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, in addition to a 5MP camera that allows capturing 720p videos.

Google Glass can be connected to internet and offer further required information with voice commands such as ‘take a picture’ or ‘search’.

The apps are the highlight here, with a fun Zombie themed running game that plays scary audio commentary into your ear and a stargazing app that responds to the direction and angle your head is pointing in.

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Android Wear smartwatches

Google released its own Android-based smartwatch operating system last month, and also announced the three smartwatches that it will feature on.

Dubbed ‘Android Wear’, the platform pushes Android into wearable technology.

According to Sundar Pichai, senior VP at Google, "we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with mobile technology.

"That’s why we’re so excited about wearables – they understand the context of the world around you, and you can interact with them simply and efficiently, with just a glance or a spoken word."

Features like Google Now, a huge success on Nexus and Android devices, will be available on smartwatches to aid with everyday tasks and habits. Google Now does this by hoarding all the information that’s thrown at your watch, then using it to provide suggestions. Like when your next flight is, where the nearest shoe shop is, or…well, really anything!

So far, the three watches announced are the Motorola Moto 360, LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live. Read all about them here.


Microsoft Surface Pro 3

Microsoft’s self-proclaimed ‘laptop replacement’ could turn a few heads this summer.

The tablet’s got a 12in 2,140 x 1,440 resolution screen with a DPI of 216 ppi and other specs include a MicroSD slot, USB 3.0 port, Mini DisplayPort and of course Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, and 5MP cameras both front and rear.

Already on sale in the US, the device will hit UK shores in August. For the cheapest option, at £639, you can pick up a machine that boasts an Intel Core i3 CPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. With the i5 and i7 version, of which the i7 is set to go for £1,649, you’ll get storage up to 512GB and 8GB RAM.


Parrot Drone

Parrot’s AR.Drone 2.0 is an easy to fly, relatively professional quadcopter style drone that has an onboard video camera and can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet.

With an easy take-off and landing button, as well has safety features like stabilising itself when the controls are released, the Parrot drone is a great introduction to the professional RC flying world, or if not that, just a bit of fun in the park this summer.


Nest Thermostat

After two and a half years, the Google-owned Nest smart thermostat arrive in the UK this spring.

Bought by Google for $3.2bn back in January, Nest will cost between £179 or £249 depending on the costs of professional installation, and will also be available for npower customers on selected tariffs. This is necessary as the UK version of Nest will be dramatically different to its US cousin, as it will have to adapt to different user habits, as UK homes rarely have heating or air conditioning programmes running all day.

Nest also believes that as many as 40% of UK houses don’t actually have thermostats, instead relying on programmer units attached to the boiler and operated by the user to gradually heat up a house. Nest replaces this with its Heat Link system, which attaches to the boiler and regulates the hot water flow depending on messages it receives from the thermostat.

Instead, based on user preferences, Nest learns the temperatures you like – and when you like them – to create an intuitive schedule. Using sensors, it will even notice if a home is empty and turn the heating down to save energy, although if you’re on your way home, you can turn use the accompanying Nest app to make sure your home is warm when you arrive.

"Every day since, we’ve been working hard to create a Nest Thermostat that will change the way our friends in the UK heat their homes," Nest’s VP of business, Erik Charlton, said of the launch.


Oculus Rift

Facebook splashed out $2bn for Oculus VR, the California-based virtual reality (VR) company that makes headsets for gamers.

Designed almost exclusively for gamers, the Oculus goggles immerse the wearer into a 3D VR fantasy that allows them to navigate games and other experiences with just the movement of their heads.

The latest version of Oculus’s 3D headset has a 960x 1,080 OLED display, which Oculus says is larger than a smartphone but smaller than a tablet, while Glass’s display has a 640X360 pixel resolution, which Google claims provides the equivalent to that of a 25-inch HD display when viewed from eight feet away.




Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon’s latest e-reader is the paperwhite. It boasts a no glare, paper-like screen that is kind on your eyes and can be easily read in full sunlight.

It also comes jamp packed full of features like notes, a dictionary, and a cool x-ray features that lets you scan an entire book for themes and key words.



On sale in the US since last summer, the two-inch dongle device lets streaming internet content such as YouTube and Netflix onto portable TVs.

Plugging into the HDMI ports usually used by DVD players or cable boxes, the streaming gadget connects to a user’s WiFi network and enables Android smartphones and tablets, iPhones and iPads as well Chrome on Mac and Windows for use as a remote control for the TV.

It will also allow users to send emails or browse the web while viewing content on TVs.



Amazon Fire Phone

The company has previously released both its Kindle Fire tablet and Fire TV set-top box in the US, with the former extended to international markets a year after its initial release.

Looking to take on the likes of Apple’s iPhone 5S and Samsung’s Galaxy S5, the Amazon Fire phone will start at $199 for the 32GB model. Weighing just 160g and measuring 0.9cm thick, it is powered by a 2.2Ghz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 2GB of RAM.

Running Amazon’s Android-based Fire OS 3.5, the device features a 4.7in screen capable of displaying 3D images and a 13MP rear camera with optical image stabilisation which Bezos says will take better photos than its competitors no matter the situation.





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